The Liberal/Nationals Coalition has held onto power for another three years. The government made a number of promises in the lead-up to the election, and its budget handed down in April was also used as part of its election platform, containing an array of measures aimed at the business community.
Here is a look back at what was promised and what it will mean for business.
Federal budget measures
April’s budget formed a central part of the Coalition’s bid for re-election. Among the measures that were announced, or were reaffirmed, included:
- The extension of the instant asset write-off and increase of the threshold to $30,000. This is already in effect, having been passed by parliament in the days after the budget. Eligibility was also increased to businesses with turnover of up to $50 million, up from the original $10 million.
- Under the government, the $30,000 threshold is set to expire on 30 June next year, at which point it will revert back to its original $1,000 limit.
- Confirmation that it planned to cut the business tax rate to 25 per cent for all businesses with turnover of less than $50 million. Labor has already pledged to support the cuts.
- The establishment of a Small Business Taxation Division within the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to expedite tax disputes for SMEs with a lower application fee.
- A $9.2 million spend to create a dedicated sham contracting division within the Fair Work Ombudsman.
- The allocation of $249.8 million over five years to trial a new employment services model for 95,000 jobseekers.
- The launch of a National Labour Hire Registration Scheme.
- $60 million in funding for export development grants.
- Ongoing funding for the Fair Work Commission’s Workplace Advice Service clinics.
- The rollout of e-invoicing in a bid to reduce business transaction costs.
- Reaffirmed commitment to the establishment of a $2 billion Australian Business Securitisation Fund, which it said would improve SMEs’ access to finance.
- A recommitment to having federal government agencies pay SME contracts within 20 days, and force larger businesses tendering for government contracts to commit to the same.
As of Thursday (16 May), the government said that it had made “$1.4 billion in new spending commitments over the forward estimates” since the budget was announced.
Much of this additional spending was focused on targeted health initiatives.
Specifically for the business community, new funding promises included:
- The creation of a new Manufacturing Modernisation Fund, designed to support Australian manufacturers make the transition to digital technologies. The fund would reportedly launch with an initial injection of $50 million.
- $3.5 million in funding for the emerging space industry, and $900,000 to “explore Australia’s growing readiness in launch capability”.
- A $75 million commitment for “new mid-career checks” for women, aimed at helping women return to the workforce after having children.
- Millions of dollars in additional funding aimed at increasing employment opportunities for Indigenous Australians.
- Additional commitments on specific infrastructure projects, such as transport links in Melbourne and upgrades on the Hume Freeway.
- A further $15 million to create five additional Regional Study Hubs — a scheme designed to support university students to remain in their local communities rather than move to major towns and cities.
- The launch of a new $10 million hub for nurturing Indigenous entrepreneurs and small businesses in Perth.
Even before the budget was handed down or the election date formalised, other election promises had already been made by the government.
At the end of March, the government matched Labor’s pledge to introduce legislation that would ban unfair terms being used in standard form contracts issued to SMEs by larger businesses.
It also pledged to spend $6.4 million to reduce red tape for Tasmanian small businesses, centralised around four “priority regulatory reforms”.